Alberto Fujimori pitches into presidential campaign

14 November 2015

Although Keiko Fujimori the candidate constantly repeats the message that it is she who is running for office and not her father, events this week have shown that she is still very much under his shadow and that he and his entourage still play an important role within her political organisation.

This plays two ways. Many of her supporters feel that the only reason to vote for her is to have her father released from jail and back in the driving seat. However, the former president is also an electoral liability; there are a large number of voters who remember his authoritarian regime and do not want to see him back in power.

On 8 November, Alberto Fujimori gave a long, two-page interview to El Mercurio, the Chilean newspaper, where he reaffirmed his ties to his daughter’s political future and reiterated that voting for her was a way of voting for him.

The fact that he could conduct such an interview while in custody has once again raised awkward questions; as a prisoner he has no right to speak to the press without permission. The authorities have opened an investigation into how this was allowed, and it is not the first time this has happened

This has again raised questions about the conditions of his incarceration. He benefits from a very generous prison regime as the only inmate of a specially-built facility where he enjoys access to several rooms, a workshop where he paints, and an allotment where he grows fruit and vegetables.

Public disquiet about his prison regime and his ability effectively to intervene in the presidential race has grown in recent days as it became clear that he had received more than 650 visitors between August and October. The majority were political figures, local authorities, business leaders and people linked with his daughter’s presidential campaign.

Keiko Fujimori has made no secret of her determination to pardon her father if she wins the election. Undoubtedly he would play an important role in a future government led by her. While Keiko seeks to allay fears about her father’s influence in order to swing over moderate opinion to her side, she may find it difficult to convince an increasingly sceptical public on this point.


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